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Children’s Firearms Safety – When is the Right Time to Speak to Your Kids?

When is the Right Time to Talk about Gun Safety?
When is the Right Time to Talk about Gun Safety?

When is the Right Time to Talk about Gun Safety?

As a father of three boys and an avid shooter, the question is on my mind and presents itself quite often. Many in my region are gun owners, hunters, and recreational shooters as well as active full time members of a family, raising children, and trying to pass along a quickly dying past time. As the years pass us by, the children get older and so do we. Many are unsure of when along this process is the right time to introduce these activities and firearms in general to their children. Is there a right time? Is a child capable of comprehending firearms safety and the consequences of irresponsibility? This can be a lot for a small child to shoulder and should be approached with caution.

My first question is, do children truly understand firearms in reality vs television or video games? Secondly, can they contemplate the real world consequences of mishandling or misuse of a firearm? All children are different, and determining the correct time to have these conversations with your children can be a tough situation to broach. For many these are incredibly important questions, for others they’ve never given it a thought, largely due to firearms being such a common household item in some regions. No matter what your circumstance, speaking to your children about firearms safety is one of the most important steps you can take in keeping your family safe within their own home.


How Do I Know the Right Time for My Child?

In my opinion, it all depends on the child. As a child myself, I was deeply interested in firearms, little army action figures, tanks, planes, warships, and generally anything that went boom. The problem was that I had no one around to explain them to me. I also grew up in a very restrictive household largely run by females, all of which were very anti-gun. This is not to say women are anti-gun in general, but in my household it was very frowned upon as a child and largely due to a domineering and somewhat abusive history of the males in my family, sometimes involving guns. The extent of Firearms Safety I received as a child (despite having access through friends and family) was mostly that they are bad, don’t touch them, they are only used for intimidation and murder. Before I get myself into hot water however, I can safely say, they had every right to feel the way they did, and had I lived through what they had, I may have likely had a similar (albeit possibly unrealistic for my circumstances) view of firearms. As a new generation however, and the one responsible for the generations after me, I choose to handle things in a slightly different manner.

Anyway, I digress… The main reason for my curiosity was largely due to the lack of male influence in my life as a little guy, I was constantly peaked because guns were foreign, forbidden objects that were out of reach for me (figuratively and literally!). I did not understand them and had no one to explain them to me, thus my curiosity grew implicitly. I can honestly say, had I stumbled across a loaded gun as a child with no one around, I probably would have blown a toe off or worse. I would have been that kid, another statistic for Gun Control Advocates to target due to lack of education and explanation by a parent or authority figure in my life. The irony is that, despite the best efforts to shelter me from all things that go boom, I was so curious at a young age that my lack of knowledge and guidance from an adult could have lead to very bad circumstances.


Two Sides to Every Coin

Funny thing, every situation has its opposite. As I stated I have three boys of my own. They have within their short years been largely surrounded by guns, outdoors, and camping. To them, it is run of the mill, common, natural. Last year my oldest son who is about to turn 12 walked through the garage where a friend and I had a deer hanging and we’re processing it. He didn’t even look twice. I had to stop for a minute and reflect on that… I just remembered thinking, as a child I would probably have been shocked or amazed by that. To him however, he barely looked twice. My kids could barely care less. Like many things with children, sometimes taking the mystery out of something makes them less interested in it.

Both of the boys who are old enough actively participate in shooting and fishing and will soon begin hunting. The older boy will have his first hunting season this year once he completes his hunter safety course. They constantly learn safety and no matter how proficient they believe they are, they are always guided and will continue to be corrected. As with most tools, you should maintain a healthy natural fear, and once you let go of that, accidents begin to happen. Maintaining a healthy fear and respect of a firearm is a constant point I try to I instill into them. All it takes is one accident.

Seriously Though…. When Is The Right Time?

The point I would like to make is this: It is up to the parent to determine, based upon the child, what and when the right time would be. If you were to press me for an answer however, the sooner the better. Do not allow them to learn through their own curiosity or worse yet, through a careless friend or school mate. If you simply own a gun for protection or you are an avid hunter or sportsman, Gun Safety should always be at the top of your list, especially when children are involved. Guns are exciting, they are loud, they are powerful, and they go boom. Of course children are going to be curious and a little excited. Use this to help steer them into a positive and responsible mindset in regards to firearms, helping to promote health & safety as well as practical & responsible gun ownership for the next generation.

19 Comments

  1. I be live children should learn about gun safety when they are six because it’s the age most children learn to hunt and open up to the outdoors

  2. I think it is really important to instill in your children and lay down the proper ground rules about weapons.

  3. This is an interesting topic. I myself do not have kids, however I can impart on when I learned and how. My father first showed me, and very carefully the weapons he owned when I was 12. We then proceeded to a firing range. However my father never really tried to engage with me (with guns)until I was 15. He never allowed me to use them until he knew for sure I knew enough to ensure everyones safety. But I do believe it depends on the child and quite frankly how good of a teacher you fancy yourself to be.

  4. I don’t know if I agree with this, children don’t need to be learning about guns.

  5. I saw my first gun when shooting targets with my friend and his dad when I was about 9

  6. I saw a gun for the first time when my dad had one, he was in special forces, but i was never able to touch it for safety reasons, and many times he showed me their military base and let me hold some unloaded weaponst and taught me how to safely hold them, good old times…

  7. I think it is really important to instill in your children and lay down the proper ground rules about weapons. To make sure that them that they stay clear of them.

  8. Isn’t amazing that people have to write an article addressing the time and age that is appropriate for children to be learning about guns? I believe that children are a lot smarter than people think they are, and that you can teach a child about guns very early. It doesn’t require very much formal training and teaching to teach a child how to think about guns. A child can and will pick up correct behavior and mentality if YOU exhibit correct behavior and mentality.

    • Children are definitely a lot smarter than we give credit for. Society however is another question. If we all had so much common sense, it would be a lot easier I suppose. It seams more and more the only way a child is to learn about this subject is through media, violent tv, games, irresponsible friends or family, and other situations that are sometimes out of a parents control. Better to teach them responsible habits within your home than have them learn from an unknown and possibly dangerous source.

      ..Unfortunately, not all people exhibit correct behavior or mentality, but it sure would make things a lot easier!

  9. I was tought to shoot a rifle at 8 years old and was only allowed to shoot the .22 until I was around 15. I grew up in the country so I learned early. It probably depends a lot on where you live. Personally, I think children should learn around 10 years old, depending on how responsible they are. Children mature differently so you can’t only go by age. You should always use discretion with firearm.

  10. I am totally with you about this topic. Many children don’t even think over the consequences of screwing up with a firearm, injuring or even killing someone. Most kids get desensitized of guns and their sometimes horrible effects early in their youth by video games and media and it looks like it’s up to responsible fathers like you to get them to understand the right idea.

  11. I totally agree, almost all kids now days are on the couch playing video games like call of duty or black Opts and a huge part of the game is shooting and killing people. Society now days has largely played down gun violence and the cost of what could happen if you misuse firearms. I feel that it is very important to talk to children about firearm safety and effects of what could potentially happen if they aren’t careful.

  12. What age would you say is suitable for a child to start using firearms? With all the speculation after a young girl killed her weapons instructor, it brings up the topic: “Does any kid have the capacity to understand the consequences of poor weapons handling?”. And it is true, as it can be seen that no matter how much you train a child to hold a firearm CORRECTLY, there is still going to be a time where they mishandle it…it may be a slight mishandling but this is all that is needed to have an ‘accident’ and lose a life. I think there should be an age restriction on children using firearms, or if a child wishes to use a firearm, it must be under professional supervision and not just that of the parents.

    • I think it largely depends on the actual child and as a blanket rule, determining a specific age for all children does not necessarily always work. If I were to take two 10 year old boys or girls, I may treat them completely different depending on their level of maturity and basic understanding. That being said, my children are always learning, as am I, and Safety is never something you finish. It is ongoing, constant, and very repetitive until it is so ingrained in you that there is no other way.

  13. I’m not necessarily sure there is such thing as a good time to introduce this type of information to a child. I’m pretty sure that the majority of children don’t necessarily understand what a gun is in the first place. But introducing them to guns at an early age seems to be the best idea right now simply because the gun is such a huge topic and something that’s obviously going to enter their lives eventually.

  14. my husband has lots of guns and it’s a huge part of out lives. I do believe children should know the safety of guns and understand the use of them. Without thinking just for fun because of video games and tv shows.

    • We definitely seem to have created a society where guns have been largely fictionalized. For families who choose not to have firearms in their home, but allow their children this form of stimuli through media, this creates a sort of fantasy like perspective of guns which, in my opinion, is probably not the healthiest or safest view, especially should these children ever have access to firearms say through a friend or family member who has not taken the time to educate them.

  15. I grew up in an area where guns were not common, and ownership was highly regulated. I recall seeing one at a friend’s house, but I don’t know if it was real, a replica, a gun lighter, or what, because I steered clear of it, since I wasn’t sure. When I moved to Texas, years ago, I worked in a field where I had to undergo a gun safety and training course, which was my first introduction to firearms. If I hadn’t had that experience, I might not have any knowledge of guns at all, and might not own one. I’m glad I do own one, and eventually, I’d like to own more. I am glad your children have had the experience of growing up in a household that respects guns and teaches use of them, as well as safety. I agree with you that each child is different, and should be taught about guns and gun safety when their parents or guardians deem it to be appropriate for them, based on their particular development level.

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